President Donald Trump talks to reporters before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington from Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, New Jersey, July 7, 2019.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request from the Justice Department to replace some of the lawyers assigned to a lawsuit over a proposed citizenship question on the 2020 census.
The DOJ previously said that a new team of attorneys would take over the case, but did not specify a reason for the change.
“The DOJ’s motion to withdraw specific attorneys is ‘patently insufficient,'” Judge Jesse Furman wrote. “Defendants provide no reason, let alone ‘satisfactory reasons’ for the substitution of counsel.”
The ruling comes as the administration battles ahead with efforts to add a question about a respondent’s citizenship status to the 2020 population survey.
President Donald Trump pushed for the addition, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that temporarily blocked the question and said that administration officials had given a “contrived” rationale for including it.
The ruling left open a possibility that the question could be added if the Trump administration proposed a better argument. The administration had told courts that the question was necessary for enforcing a law to protect the voting rights of racial minorities.
The president said he would consider issuing an executive order in order to restore the question. It’s unclear whether Trump has the power to mandate the question’s inclusion in the report.
Here’s the order: